A touching story about adjustment, recovery, love, and friendship, told of a boy whose family moves to a new country due to war.
As Mustafa, a black-haired, brown-skinned boy who seems to be from Syria or Iraq, settles into his new environment, he observes everything around him: In the nearby park, there are green trees, flowers that look like his grandmother’s teacups, and bugs that resemble jewels. He also sees a blonde, white girl with a cat and runs away after she talks to him with words he cannot understand. When he visits the park the next day, he finds many new interesting things, among which is a perfect stick for drawing. He draws an airplane and a burning house and runs away again when the girl comes. She creates butterflies and flowers that erase the previous drawing. Mustafa later sees children playing and waves to them, but they don’t notice him. One day he hears a tune he already knows, but no one pays attention when he whistles along with it. “Am I invisible?” he asks his mom. “If you were invisible, I couldn’t hug you, could I?” she says. Eventually, the girl succeeds in communicating with Mustafa, and a new friendship is born. Gay’s customarily splashy, scratchy illustrations effectively depict Mustafa’s isolation and yearning even as her text carefully delineates what about his new home is familiar and what is strange.
An invaluable resource for those working with children from resettled refugee families as well as host communities. (Picture book. 3-8)